FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF IBERIA,
DOCKET NO. 15-1229 HONORABLE VINCENT JOSEPH BORNE, DISTRICT
C. Marx Louisiana Appellate COUNSEL FOR: Defendant/Appellant
- Roman Ford
Winston White, Assistant Attorney General Louisiana
Department of Justice COUNSEL FOR: Plaintiff/Appellee - State
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Sylvia R.
Cooks, and Elizabeth A. Pickett, Judges.
R. COOKS JUDGE
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
LeBlanc, a Lieutenant at the Iberia Parish Jail, participated
in the October 11, 2014 shake-down of Defendant, Roman
Ford's cell. Lieutenant LeBlanc testified that two
inmates complained of Defendant having a sharp object in his
cell and complained that Defendant was making threats. When
Lieutenant LeBlanc and Deputy Keith Moneaux went to check the
cell, the Defendant and three other inmates were in the cell
block. According to Lieutenant LeBlanc, the following
happened when she and the other deputy entered the cell
Deputy Moneaux and myself both entered. I had each inmate one
at a time get out of their bunk and put their hands behind
their head and step out one at a time. Mr. Ford was the last
one in the cell. He was on the bottom bunk closest to the
restroom. Whenever he - -As the rest were entering - - The
information was given was that he was the one who had the
"shank"; so initially I focused on him just to see
if there was anything else and to pay attention to that area.
I did see him attempt to reach on his side. He was covered
with his blanket, but I could see his hand under the blanket
and he looked he [sic] was trying to grab for some type of
item or something on his mat. He was the last one it [sic].
It was Deputy Moneaux and myself in there. And he stood up
and asked for the restroom. I told him he could not go to the
restroom at the time because history is [sic] the jail is
that, if there is contraband or something, people will try to
flush it to get rid of it. He was denied the restroom. The
second - - We told him "no". He was standing up by
the restroom and we heard - - well, I heard what sounded like
a metal object hit the floor. [A]nd the second he was far
enough away from it, myself and Deputy Moneaux grabbed him
and escorted him out the cell. Deputy Moneaux went straight
to where we - - where I heard the item fall and he picked up
Lieutenant LeBlanc described the shank as being what appeared
to be a screw that had been taken out of the floor and
Keith Moneaux testified that when he walked into the cell, he
focused on Defendant since he was the inmate accused of
having the shank. When Deputy Moneaux entered the cell,
Defendant was fidgety and moving around on the mattress.
Defendant was told to exit the cell but stated that he needed
to use the restroom first. According to Deputy Moneaux,
Defendant actually entered the bathroom stall. The officers
told him he needed to wait and to exit the bathroom area,
immediately. As Defendant was exiting the bathroom area
Deputy Moneaux heard something hit the floor. When asked what
he heard specifically, Deputy Moneaux testified:
A. It was the actual "shank".
Q. Describe the noise you heard.
A. Like a "ping". It hit like a drain on the floor
in the stall.
Q. Who else was in the cell when that occurred?
A. It was just me and Mr. [sic] LeBlanc.
Q. Any other inmates?
A. No, sir. The other inmates were already exited the dorm.
Q. What did, what did you do at that point?
A. We actually got Mr. Roman Ford out and then I went back
immediately and found the object that he had dropped.
August 25, 2015, Defendant was charged by bill of information
with one count of introducing or possessing contraband in a
municipal or parish jail, a violation of La.R.S. 14:402(E).
Defendant entered a plea of not guilty to the charge on
September 8, 2015. A jury trial took place on January 27,
2016, and Defendant was found guilty as charged. Thereafter,
on February 1, 2016, Defendant was charged as a habitual
offender and entered a plea of not guilty. On May 12, 2016,
the trial court found the Defendant was a fourth felony
offender. On that same date, the trial court sentenced
Defendant to five years at hard labor on the underlying
charge of possessing contraband in a municipal or parish
jail. Defendant filed a Motion for Appeal, which was granted.
August 2, 2016, the trial court vacated the previous sentence
and sentenced Defendant as a fourth felony offender to twenty
years at hard labor without benefit of probation, parole, or
suspension of sentence.
Pursuant to a motion filed by the District Attorney's
Office, on September 12, 2016, the trial court ordered the
16th Judicial District Attorney's Office
recused. The Attorney General of the State of Louisiana was
notified of the need to appoint counsel. By letter dated
October 28, 2016, the Attorney General accepted the
is now before this court alleging three assignments of error,
one of which is also discussed in the error patent section.
For the reasons that follow, we affirm Defendant's
conviction and amend the sentence imposed.
PATENT and ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 2
accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are
reviewed for errors patent on the face of the record. After
reviewing the record, we find one error patent that is also
assigned as error number two in Defendant's brief.
court minutes reflect that the court imposed a twenty year
hard labor sentence on Defendant without any restriction of
benefits. However, the sentencing transcript indicates that
the trial court imposed Defendant's twenty year sentence
without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of
sentence. "[W]hen the minutes and the transcript
conflict, the transcript prevails." State v.
Wommack, 00-137, p. 4 (La.App. 3 Cir. 6/7/00), 770 So.2d
365, 369, writ denied, 00-2051 (La. 9/21/01), 797
So.2d 62. The trial court improperly denied parole
eligibility on Defendant's habitual offender sentence
imposed for his conviction of introducing into or possessing
contraband in any municipal or parish prison or jail, a
violation of La.R.S. 14:402. Although Section G of La.R.S.
15:529.1 requires habitual offender sentences to be imposed
without the benefit of probation or suspension of sentence,
it does not authorize the trial court to deny parole
eligibility. "[T]he restrictions on parole eligibility
imposed on multiple offender sentences under La.R.S. 15:529.1
'are those called for in the reference
statute.'" State v. Tate, 99-1483, pp. 1-2
(La. 11/24/99), 747 So.2d 519, 520 (citation omitted). The
applicable penalty provision for introducing into or
possessing contraband in any municipal or parish prison or
jail does not authorize the trial court to impose any portion
of the sentence without the benefit of parole.
La.R.S.14:402(G). Therefore, Defendant's sentence must be
amended to delete the denial of parole eligibility and the
trial court is instructed to make an entry in the court
minutes reflecting that change. See State v.
Barfield, 11-515 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/23/11), 81 So.3d
760, writ denied, 11-2818 (La. 4/13/12), 85 So.3d
OF ERROR NO. 1
assignment of error, Defendant contends the trial court erred
in denying him the right to present evidence relating to the
events leading up to the shakedown of his cellblock.
Defendant argues that evidence of these events was relevant
to this case, and the trial court's denial of admission
of this evidence violated the Defendant's right to
present a defense.
the cross-examination of Lieutenant LeBlanc, Defendant asked
Lieutenant LeBlanc if there had been issues with Shane Norman
(the initial complainant about the shank) causing a ruckus in
the cell. The State objected, ...